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Is college worth it?

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Subject: Career question for you

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12 answers

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Jimmy’s Answer


I love your question. I hope you continue to question institutions around you... but most importantly you need to ask "what purpose does this serve?"

"What purpose does College serve?" is the question I would focus on. That will help tell you what it is "worth" to you.

I am sure there are plenty of people out there who will tell you they didn't learn much in college, or all they did was party, or maybe they studied really hard on 1 subject... and then decided to change careers later in life. A colleague of mine recently reminded me that "what you get out of college [and all of life] is simply what you put into it".

So keep these things in mind:
• While some companies are moving away from this, lots of jobs do require a college degree.
• College can and should be about more than just your curriculum. There are social benefits that are worth learning as well. Opening your eyes to new people, new ideologies, and other life experiences helps you grow. This may be "fun" or it may be "hard", but it WILL make you a better candidate in your career.
• If you go to college and can live on your own - there's benefits here as well - if you didn't learn this stuff already, you will - laundry, cooking, budgeting, and plenty of other relevant life skills often come while you're at college.
• Do you know what you want to study? If there is a particular university that is prestigious in this field, going here may give you a great first step in your career and help set you up for success.

These are just some things to consider. College may not be for everyone -- but the important part is understanding WHY you're going (or not going), which requires a goal in mind. Start thinking about what you want in your life... and then work backwards to make it happen. See if college fits into that plan. If you're not sure at all... I'd consider going and be open minded to what you can learn (in class or socially) while you're there.
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Keith’s Answer

It may be an unpopular answer, depends. If you have a goal or life plan that takes you down the entrepreneurial or trade route, college and the expenses that come along with that, may not be in your best interest. Frankly, starting your own business is hard enough than to do so with a mountain of student loan debt to resolve. The "normal" route includes college, but times are different now and without knowing what you want your life plan to look like, it is possible to achieve it without college.

The challenge comes if/when the business or career plan changes resulting in potentially competing against other talent in an industry that may place greater value on education than experience. In those cases, it could be difficult to compete.
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John’s Answer

Mason a college education may be one of the best investments of time and money for a person's career. Higher education isn’t just about earning a degree. If we step back and examine what a college experience entails, we can see that it is more than just attending classes and taking exams. In fact, higher education is about learning new ways of thinking and acquiring problem-solving skills. Students are asked to reason outside of their comfort zones. They are taught to engage in critical thinking as both an individual and as a member of a classroom. In many cases, students are required to stretch their imagination in both oral and written works, often presented in front of their peers. In other words, a college education teaches students to think differently. Outside of earning a degree, a student will graduate with new and improved skills in critical thinking, analytics, written and oral communication, and group problem-solving.

It’s quite easy to think of the benefits of a college degree in terms of future earnings and promotion opportunities. However, what’s spoken of less frequently is the role that networking can play in these opportunities. People often get jobs based on recommendations made my friends, while in other cases, having a professional network can help people learn about upcoming job opportunities before others do. The truth is that creating a professional network can mean the difference between finding a job or getting a promotion, and those networks start forming in college. Colleges are filled with volunteer organizations and professional societies where you can meet others who are in your field. Through these contacts, you may learn about opportunities while you’re still in school. This might include internship opportunities and other chances to get real world experience that will look good on your resume.

Good Luck Mason
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Daniel’s Answer

College can be worth it, It really depends on what you will get out of it. I recommend you consider joining the military. There are so many opportunities for you here, It is one of the most honorable things you can do and it comes with a lot of benefits. They will train you in what field you want to go in and it can be valuable in the civilian world. You can go to college afterwards and it will be paid for. You can stay in and you will see so many interesting places and make some of the best friends you could think of. Some of my friends are into real-estate so they do that on the side others do stocks others stream video games. The opportunities are endless.
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Alanna’s Answer

Hi Mason!

I think that college is an amazing option for anyone, especially recent HS graduates that might not have a clear vision of what they hope to get out of the next 5 years. From the people and their guidance to the wealth of knowledge and resources, you cannot go wrong in choosing to go to college. Think of your decision to attend as a starting point to the much greater journey that you are about to embark on. You do not have to go in with a decided major or career path. You can even transfer colleges if you find that another university is a better fit for your developing interests. College is meant to help guide you through uncertainties and bring you out with more direction and more resources than you had before.

As someone who recently graduated college, I would say absolutely it was worth it. I met the best of people, got to experience a new city, and most important of all, my university helped me get an amazing job right out of school. It was the perfect four year experience for me because it was what I needed. College is an experience tailored to you and what you need, and if you remember that, college is a valuable experience for anyone.

Wishing you the best of luck on your future endeavors! The journey has only just begun!
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Kristen’s Answer

Education is a very personal choice. Explore collegiate and technical training beyond high school that can lead to good careers. A bachelor's degree may not provide you with the skills needed for the specific role you want. A certificate or vocational trade may offer you the leg up you need to begin your career depending on your passion. There are many options in trades that will still challenge you and still offer a competitive salary.
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Gloria’s Answer

Hi Mason,

As you already know at this point, the answer is not a simple yes or no. I wanted to offer my personal experience with college to show how you can go from not needing to go to college to going to college.

I started college at 18 because it was expected. I wanted to write so I chose Journalism as a major. I even chose my university based on that major. However, I did not consider how competitive a project like that would be and how competitive I am not. I played a bit with college after that, going through about 5 majors and still not finishing. That is a very expensive endeavor that ultimately got me nowhere. Instead, I learned what I wanted to do by doing the work. I started working and actually found the job that I have done for the last 15 years. I was a data entry person who was very good at training other data entry people, so I became an on-the-job trainer. Then I got better at teaching and became a corporate trainer. I took some classes to enhance my skills, but didn't think about getting a degree. I trained for about six years for small companies, writing the content that I trained. It felt easy and natural and it paid pretty well. Then I was laid off during a bad time in the economy in 2003. I could not get a training job. Why? I had the experience but not a degree. I didn't need a degree in training, I just needed a degree, any degree. It sounds crazy, but it's true. I loved my job as a training and a writer of training. I had found my dream job. And now I couldn't have it. I spent two years in an awful customer service job, working to get my college degree at night. I had wasted a lot of time and money, but not all of it. Some of my credits transferred to my last university and I was able to finish my bachelor's degree in under two years. (I graduated with nearly twice the credits earned over 15 years. Even now I wince at how much money I wasted.) That degree, that hard-to-get degree, got me a training job again, just six months after graduation. And actually it was solely as a writer, more formally known as an Instructional Designer. I was so anxious about having my dream job taken away from me again that I went on to earn a Masters degree in Instructional Design. No one is taking my dream job away from me ever again.

As others have said, it is important to know if the job that you want requires education. If it doesn't, you should consider - is there still a tactical advantage in having a degree for that job? Sometimes the answer is no. Famous artists and rich people in many technical fields don't have diplomas. College is not required but it can be an advantage in getting a job and then making more money in the job. I would say that if you want to wait to go to college, that is okay. I did and I managed to have a good life. Customer Service can pay really well if you are good at it. I was good, I just hated it. The greatest gift I have given myself is a job that I love. Work is never an easy thing, but it feels like you can get through any work challenge if you love what you do. I hope that you find that for yourself.

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Sheen’s Answer

Mason, good question. Everyone's situation is different but I would share that the College experience has the below benefits. Would suggest you list out the benefits, along with other pros/cons, to help you make the best decision for you as possible:

* Provides the experience for independence
* Opportunities to make decisions and priorities
* Money & budget management
* Social interactions
* A chance to determine what interests you
* Hands on opportunities to gain experience as part of college courses but through internships

Those are just some of the benefits that come to mind that you may already be thinking about. Best of luck!
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Simeon’s Answer

It's important to know you have several options for getting successful work long-term. If you're not entirely sure what you'd like to pursue with a college degree, also take a look at trade jobs such as electrician, plumber, and welder. People in these fields can be quite successful and pull great wages. To get an idea of what you could use a college degree to do, I would recommend looking at the department of labor's website ( and see what career fields are doing well right now. See if any pique your interest. I would recommend avoiding getting debt for college if you don't want to use the degree for a specific job. If you can get a college degree without taking on much debt, it can be a great asset, but it's not your only option.
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Dawnyale’s Answer

Hi Mason!

As many here have indicated, it really is a personal choice. I can tell you that college is a serious decision and requires a lot of vigor, time dedication, focus and commitment. However, the moment you reach your educational goals is one of the happiest you'll experience.

You should take some time to research career fields and think about whether or not it aligns with your strengths and what you naturally enjoy. Going to college just because you're of age can be a costly decision that may not lead to the results you're seeking. However, going to study something you enjoy will lead to career satisfaction and normally, a better quality of life.

I will say that a degree will normally get you in the door of a lot of entry-level positions, however experience and demonstration of skill set will get you even further. And typically, the best way to gain experience is to study or work within the field, soak up the knowledge, and apply it. Having a degree or certification demonstrates that you are capable of learning and serious enough about a subject to study it from the inside out, thus becoming an expert.

It's probably a good idea to talk to a career counselor and explore your future, keeping in mind what makes you happy. Find something you would enjoy doing and begin setting goals that will lead you there.

Good luck to you!

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Jetangeline’s Answer

Many jobs require a college degree. You can choose from plenty of exciting careers without a degree. But certain jobs like teaching, nursing, engineering and law all require at least a two-year degree. Graduating college can open doors to career paths that would be closed to you otherwise. Not to mention having a degree might put you ahead of your competition during the job hunt, even for jobs where a degree isn’t required.

In college you learn a lot inside and outside the classroom. You’re not just learning concepts and taking exams. Your classes help you build skills you’ll need in the workforce, like problem solving, critical thinking, teamwork and organization. Yeah, you could gain this experience in other ways, but it’s part of what makes the college experience a good investment for a lot of people.

College is also a great opportunity to branch out and meet people from all walks of life. You never know what you might learn from someone with a different background than yours. And universities are usually melting pots of cultures, religions, political views and other beliefs. While your core values will probably remain the same, you’ll hopefully gain a better understanding of where others are coming from.

Not to mention, you’ll have access to more opportunities. Internships are one of the best ways to gain on-the-job experience—and maybe even a job offer. But many internships are only available to current college students.
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Atul’s Answer

Is college worth it?
What is it that you want to do in your life?
For instance: do you want to work in the construction field to build homes or be an electrician? You have to have some basic education reading the layout or knowledge of electricity. You can acquire these skills by going to a vocational school.

Do you want to be an engineer or work in a corp America or work in the medical field or work for yourself - you need a college degree to develop skills and develop analytical skills along with it.

A nutshell, having a college degree nowadays is essential because you will develop skills that will make you think. You will acquire knowledge that is not taught in school. You will not get a job in Corp. America w/o college degree - this is the reality in 21st century. I am sure you have heard of stories where a professional athlete's agent and/or the accountant cheated him because he did not understand what they were doing w/ his 10 figures bank balance.

However, where to go to college or university? It is based on scholarship and financial situation. Today, Student Loan debt has reached $1T from college tuition, and many people are unable to pay their loans because they do not have a job to pay these loans. Be smart and go to state school/univ - try community college for two years and then transfer credits to state univ. You will save a lot of money.

Net-net: Is college worth it? Based on what I have seen around me (30+ years), I do not know anyone's children who have not finished a college degree.
Thanks to the college education that I have acquired to be very successful and ensure that my children do the same to be successful.
Fortunately, they have done the same and are contributing to society and making a very comfortable living w/o student loan debt and are in the field that Corp America desires.